Google Buys Photo Recognition Firm

Google on Tuesday announced it had acquired Neven Vision, a company that develops photo recognition software which is currently used in mobile phones, along with biometric applications by the U.S. government and law enforcement.

Neven Vision holds 15 patents related to image analysis and facial recognition. Google plans to use the technology to improve Picasa, its free photo organization application. The program will eventually be able to automatically identify individuals and places in pictures, which will make searching far easier.

"It could be as simple as detecting whether or not a photo contains a person, or, one day, as complex as recognizing people, places, and objects. This technology just may make it a lot easier for you to organize and find the photos you care about," explained Picasa product manager Adrian Graham.

Startup Riya is building its business around similar photo recognition functionality, enabling users to upload and sort their pictures by who and what is in them. The also recently rolled out a new search tool for scouring the Internet by color, sketch or similar image.

Google did not say what it plans to do with Neven Vision's products that are currently in development, including iScout, which allows camera phone owners to snap a picture and search for information relevant to the content in the photo. Neven Vision also provides facial recognition scanners to government agencies.

"Neven Vision comes to Google with deep technology and expertise around automatically extracting information from a photo," added Graham. "We don't have any specific features to show off today, but we're looking forward to having more to share with you soon."

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